On June 29, 2021, the Center for Justice and Peace (CEPAZ), the Dale Letra citizen movement, Red Observación Electoral, Red Electoral Ciudadana (REC), Sinergia y Voto Joven, supported by the Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (WOLA) held an event that sought to open a discussion on the technical assistance that the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) could provide during the electoral processes in Venezuela and how others Member States can contribute to this goal.
Conclusions on the role of the UN and the EU in promoting free and fair elections in Venezuela
- Currently, there are no electoral guarantees in Venezuela that allow free and fair elections. Electoral guarantees in Venezuela have suffered a long, systematic and continuous process of deterioration during the last decade that has been gradually empowering. The last elections called were on December 6, 2021 and were the elections with the worst conditions in recent years.
The process of denial of electoral guarantees carried out by the Venezuelan government included various actions such as illegal disqualifications against opposition politicians since 2005, obstruction of observation since 2005, interventions by political parties since 2012, and restrictions so that Venezuelans abroad cannot vote.
2. In Venezuela a process of reconstruction of electoral mechanisms is needed, gradually and taking advantage of each electoral event to advance in the re-institutionalization of the electoral route. The solution to the crisis goes through a political solution, which must go through the restoration of civil and political rights. For these to be real, electoral assistance from the United Nations and EU observation can be central to these processes. The reinstitutionalization of the vote is a necessary step for the reconstruction of democracy and the way out of the crisis.
3. The Venezuelan electoral calendar for the next few years includes various electoral events. Regional elections (2021), municipal elections (2022), revocation of the presidential mandate (2022) and presidential elections (2024) will be held. These events represent an opportunity to develop national capacities that would allow the reconstruction of electoral institutions in the country. The UN could play a key role in providing international assistance to these important processes.
4. The goal is to have elections, fair (with the same rules for all), transparent (one person and one vote)and free (without coercion). As part of this reconstruction process, an independent electoral arbitration is wanted as minimum guarantees; political pluralism; an up-to-date electoral register; international observation regarding the results.
To achieve these five objectives, it is required, among others, to free the political parties from the current judicial limitations, ensure balanced media access, perform technical process audits, remove disables policies, eliminate control points by the ruling party at voting centers (red dots),
recover the right to vote for Venezuelan migrants and refugees, regulate the use of public media for the benefit of the government party (PSUV), implementation of a COVID-19 protocol for electoral processes.
5. Electoral observation plays a significant role, not only for an election, but for a middle and middle-level process long term to re-establish electoral guarantees. Qualified national and international electoral observation is essential. Since the recovery process will be gradual, the observation should not only be of an electoral event, but of a long and medium-term process that includes an electoral cycle of November 21, 2021 and may culminate in 2024 with a presidential election process. The United Nations electoral technical assistance in the field of elections can include provision of legal, technical, operational advice and financial resources in order to hold electoral processes transparent, impartial and recognized by all political actors.
6. The recommendations indicated by the Observation Mission of the European Union in 2006 on the elections in Venezuela, they are still in force and have to be complied with. 2006 was the last time the European Union sent an Observation Mission to Venezuela. A new EU mission would allow us to verify how the electoral system in the country has deteriorated, following up on the different agreements to those that can be reached in an eventual negotiation.
7. Civil society organizations have proposed the strategy with Social Dialogue and with Civic Forum to document, demand and participate. As part of this strategy, it was decided to present candidates from civil society with sufficient capacities and credentials to assume the task of being rectors of the CNE. 15 candidates were proposed which led to a first step of 4 out of 15 people were appointed rectors to the CNE (one main).
8. The CNE with the new configuration has been in office for 55 days, in which certain achievements have been achieved. Among these achievements are the performance of registration and updating operations in the electoral registry and an audit comprehensive to allow comprehensive review of the automated voting system with the participation of specialists recognized national universities. On June 25, a meeting was held with the EU delegation in Venezuela and President of CNE with announcement of the technical mission of the EU. On June 25, a joint EU communiqué was also issued, USA and Canada in which they call for international standards for the elections of November 2021
Call to action
How can the international community help to build free, fair and transparent elections?
- UN electoral technical assistance through the Electoral Assistance Division is needed to rebuild
electoral capacities that have previously been destroyed in the country. Likewise, a mission of The European Union will make it possible to verify the current weaknesses of the Venezuelan electoral system. Both are vital toachieve the restitution of civil and political rights in the country.
- States receiving Venezuelan migrants can assist together with the UN to restore the right to vote.
of Venezuelans abroad. Currently there are approximately 4 million voters abroad who
They cannot participate in elections and they can define the outcome of an electoral event. This requires ensure the right to identification of Venezuelans abroad, their registration in the registry, the irregularization in the host State and the establishment of the necessary structure so that they can vote in the elections.
- There must be a coordinated action by the States, the UN, the EU and any group or organization
regional to build the possibility of free elections.
- The international community can support the reconstruction of the electoral path with a medium and long term. In the case of Venezuela, technical assistance must include both the electoral event and all the processes before, during and after the elections and should be perceived as technical support andimpartial.